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Circus spices it up with extra sauce (and skills)

30 January 2023

With outrageous tricks set to a 90s soundtrack, the self-proclaimed Spice Girls of circus are preparing to werk you into a frenzy. Dig out that spandex, wannabes.

The fun-loving team from Circus Trick Tease will try anything once, whether it’s juggling a table with their feet or morphing into a human skipping rope.  

To paraphrase their new show, they werk it, werk it! Producer and performer Malia Walsh, who co-founded the award-winning troupe with Shannon McGurgan and Farhad Ahadi in 2008, says it’s all part of going the extra mile to ensure audiences have a helluva good time. 

Circus Trick Tease’s first (self-titled) show won three awards, with Walsh producing two sellout Adelaide seasons, a regional national tour and two UK tours.  

So what are the self-professed Spice Girls of circus offering audiences with Werk It? Julie Hosking gets the lowdown from the “boss lady” ahead of the Fringe season. 

Julie Hosking: For Seesaw Mag readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work? 

Malia Walsh: I’ve been twirling on to the stage since I was a kid, and trained in classical ballet until I was 14 before moving into circus and physical theatre training. 

I began performing in 2005 in a duo called Pyroptix and toured Asia for a few years, before co-founding Circus Trick Tease. 

Since then, I’ve produced multiple award-winning and diverse shows with Circus Trick Tease, including Children are Stinky, ‘Straya, Can’t Face, Brass Monkeys and Werk It.  

I’ve also been an outside eye for many other companies, including Headfirst Acrobatics, Happy Haps Productions and Club Swizzle. In 2017, I was hired by Circus Oz to direct Neon and Bubblegum, which both won several awards. 

I love creating shows that are high skill, big energy and have bigger laughs. I’ve performed from the Maldives to London and Cockburn to Edinburgh, and for everyone from Mick Jagger and the Umbilical Brothers to all the Australian footy teams. I’ve even been a support act for the Wiggles! 

JH: Tell us a little about Circus Trick Tease – what can audiences expect? 

MW: Decked in the finest spandex the 90s has to offer, we will flip, dip and hip thrust to a soundtrack of 90s dance bangers, in an acrobatic romp hotter than Elle Macpherson. 

The late-night love child of circus, comedy and cabaret, Werk It is stacked with big tricks and big characters. Aside from me, our all-star cast include Lisa Lottie (La Clique), Cassia Jamieson (Circa), Vincent van Berkel (Casus) and Richard Sullivan (Circus Oz). 

Our highly skilled, over-the-top ensemble will suck you into an Oz-style fever dream and spit you out sweaty. Strap in, folks. It is, what we call in the biz, a riot.  

Lisa Lottie spins those hula hoops with remarkable dexterity in ‘Werk It’. Photo supplied

JH: What inspired you to make this work? 

MW: After making Children are Stinky, we realised there was a deep love for throwback 90s comedy. 

What makes your show different to all the others on offer during the festival season? 

MW: Werk It has all the wows of a circus and all the laughs of a comedy, it’s the most fun you’ll have as an audience member. It’s unbelievable, it’s incredibly skilled, it’s funny as fuck. It’s hot and sexy and funny at the same time.  

We offer circus with extra — costumes are extra, set is extra, performers are extra. You’ll see things in this show you’ve never seen before, such as acrobatics on a flying keg … and that’s not even the big trick.  

JH: What do you hope audiences will take away from your show? 

MW: Our last audience beat their fists on the stage, stopped their feet and bought us beers. It’s fun, it’s a good time and a banging soundtrack. Good times guaranteed.  

JH: Take us behind the scenes of your show – what happens backstage?  

MW: Rehearsals are wild and too much fun. We’ll try anything once. Turn me into a human skipping rope? Yes. Handstand on my butt? Obviously. Juggle a table with your feet? Why not. It’s wild and fun and that is all reflected in our show.  

JH: Tell us about your creative process. 

MW: All our performers are incredibly high calibre, so we can create quickly and efficiently. We take the time to consider all the elements, costumes, props and choreography to make the show seamless.  

Every act is drilled and thought out to put big tricks in, every changeover thought about and entertaining. There isn’t a breath we’ve not thought about to make it the best experience for the audience.  

We have a strong cast who are quick enough to catch everything to make it look effortless on stage, so the audience has the best time.  

JH: Aside from your own show, what are you looking forward to seeing during the festival?  

MW: We have a children’s show, Brass Monkeys, which runs until 5 February (read Seesaw’s review of last year’s production). It’s an award-winning kids show that has been touring nationally. The performers are so incredible they can balance on their head and play the trumpet! It’s about kids marching to the beat of their own drum and has laughs for both parents and kids. It’s such good fun.  

JH: What’s next for you? 

MW: Having just done seasons in New Zealand and three weeks at the Sydney Festival, we are set to embark on a national tour of Australia. We have seasons booked in NSW, QLD, VIC until national touring becomes more viable – then watch out London!  

JH: What is your favourite part of the playground (because we are Seesaw Magazine)? 

MW: We love the swings, of course. We were the kids who tried to make the swing go all the way around! 

Werk It is at the Big Top at the Pleasure Garden, 3-19 February 2023.

Pictured top: With more spandex than an aerobics class, the team from Circus Trick Tease are out for fun and games. Photo supplied

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Author —
Julie Hosking

A journalist with more words to her name than she can count, Julie Hosking has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Melbourne and Perth. She has been a news editor, travel editor, features editor, arts editor and, for one terrifying year, business editor, before sanity prevailed and she landed in her happy place - magazines. If pushed (literally), she favours the swing.

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